Isaiah Briscoe was toiling in Estonia dreaming of playing in the NBA. He got his chance and took it as a key part of the Orlando Magic’s turnaround.
There might have been some vague remembrances of his time with the Kentucky Wildcats, buried among the other elite prospects who play for John Calipari. But Isaiah Briscoe had drifted out of the NBA picture after going undrafted and missing the cut with the Portland Trail Blazers last year.
He spent his previous season in Estonia, hardly a basketball enclave. Briscoe was the league’s MVP and an All-Star there. But that is hardly a league anyone watches.
As the story goes though, Jeff Weltman and John Hammond asked Matt Lloyd and his scouting staff to find them their next diamond in the rough. He had kept tabs on Khem Birch and brought him over to the team, leading to a surprising run with the team. Briscoe was another guy on his radar.
The hard-nosed Briscoe made an impression in the team’s Summer League mini-camp. The Magic signed him to a contract before the first Summer League game tipped off, making sure no one else could take him.
When Briscoe finally emerged in the rotation, it proved to be a huge boost for the Magic. He played with pace and fearlessness. For a team that was struggling with point guard Jerian Grant running the bench unit, Isaiah Briscoe proved to be a breath of fresh air. He changed the tempo and energy of the game.
He was one of the many rotation decisions that seemed to lead directly to change in the team. Change for the better.
Briscoe was not overly impressive statistically. He did not provide a big impact there and still has a lot of holes in his game to fill and improve upon. But his arrival in the rotation changed things.
Just as much as his unfortunate injury did. He tore his meniscus and forced the Magic to scramble to find a point guard that fill his role with energy and pace. They found one in Michael Carter-Williams and his play eclipsed what Isaiah Briscoe gave.
That puts his future somewhat in jeopardy as he recovers from injury. But for a player to go from Estonia to the rotation of a playoff team is quite the accomplishment.
Published at Fri, 17 May 2019 10:14:41 +0000